De Beers, Workplace Health, a business unit of EOH, and the South African Business Coalition on Health and Aids (SABCOHA), have heeded the call by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the private sector to play a more constructive and prominent role to ensure successful collaboration in achieving the goals set out in the National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2017 – 2022 for HIV, TB and STIs.
The NSP outlines the strategic framework for multi-sectoral partnerships to further accelerate progress in reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with HIV, TB and STIs in South Africa.
As a result, De Beers and EOH invested R1.8 million each towards providing health screening in the mining communities of Musina and Blouberg in Limpopo as a demonstration of how business is rallying government’s call to fast track community health screening. The initiative also aims to make it easy and convenient for mining communities to prioritise their health and to understand the importance of early detection and behavioural change in managing key health risks.
On Friday 13 October 2017 the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, joined hundreds of community members at a Health Fair jointly organised by De Beers, EOH, and SABCOHA where free health screening for blood pressure, TB, diabetes, HIV/Aids were offered; including free cancer screening, pap smears and mammograms for women through a partnership with Pink Drive. The Minister also gave feedback on the success of the NSP to date and expressed renewed hope and optimism about the private sector’s response to HIV, TB and STIs.
Power of Partnerships
Leading up to the Health Fair, a total of 10 000 community members received comprehensive health screening and 100 micro enterprises were trained in SABCOHA’s BizAIDS module that includes Business Management, Health Risk Management and Succession Planning. The objectives of the training is not only to build sustainable businesses but to also provide skills to owners and partners of small businesses to become health promoters within their communities.
Reinforcing the power of partnerships in achieving the NSP goals, the initiative has also been endorsed by the Department of Health and the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) as part of strengthening the efforts to address the social and structural factors that increase vulnerability to infection of HIV, TB and STIs in our communities.
Commenting on the mining company’s role towards a achieving the goals set out in the NSP, De Beers Consolidated Mines CEO, Phillip Barton said: “We continue to take the health of our communities, including our employees very seriously. This can be seen in the remarkable results we have achieved through our 90 90 90 strategy. We have also focused our efforts on screening more than 90% of our employees for TB through our medical surveillance programme and wellness campaigns. However, these programmes cannot be limited to our employees only. We are committed to reaching out and making a positive impact in the health of the communities which are hosting us.”
SABCOHA Chairperson, Lesego Rametsi said: “We are excited to be part of this vital initiative. The ambitious NSP goals aimed at reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with TB and HIV/AIDS, can only be achieved through the strategic and sustainable relationships between government, civil society and private sector. This initiative represents the first of many activities that illustrate the power and strength of collaboration between private sector companies and other related stakeholders in ensuring access to life saving medical screening to vulnerable populations.
The health screening project began in 2009 when the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) embarked a programme to ensure business participates in the HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign (HCT).
The objectives of the project include:
- To conduct HIV/AIDS and wellness screening in remote areas where communities have not been tested and refer those with positive results to primary health care facilities
- To focus on micro-enterprises where entrepreneurs may be affected who support families and, in some instances, create employment
- To contribute to the reduction of stigmatisation around getting screened and knowing your HIV status
- To create opportunities to educate the community on other lifestyle diseases and how to prevent them
Dr Reginald Setlhakgoe from EOH said: “The fight against HIV & TB morbidity and mortality is the kind that will be won through partnership and collaboration between various stakeholders and government. Today’s collaboration initiative between De Beers, EOH, SABCOHA and government has once again demonstrated to all of us the positive impact which can be achieved.”
“Health has been taken to the people, and community members received comprehensive health screening. However, more importantly, they acquired valuable information regarding their personal health, which is one of the most priceless gift any person can ever receive – because it empowers the individual to make informed decisions regarding their health.”